The Darker Side of HIPA

Consider this Part II of my post “Grandchild at Risk.” The main characters are a mother who needs  Bone Marrow Transplant to delay the onset of Leukemia, a father she accused of domestic abuse (hearing dismissed with prejudice), and a six-year-old who loves dogs. My husband and I are secondary players, though we have been intimately involved with this family since the parents were married in our back yard, and especially since their child was born.

In my first post on this true-life tragedy, the mother was working at a tiny independent pharmacy and was being advised on matters both medical and legal by co-workers who have been in and out of the law courts.  Mommy had cut off her only family from knowledge of her health status, using the Health Information Privacy Act (HIPA). We know from the diagnosis that her disease impairs all of her organs, including the brain. By her own admission, she has had short-term memory loss.  She is also, understandably, often fatigued.

This has meant that, during Mommy’s custodial periods, we have had no idea whether or not our granddaughter was safe riding with her in a car, or if she was in the care of  the friend who (our son was told by his wife) had her children taken away because her boyfriend abused them; or with the 13-year-old daughter of the other friend whose family is rumored to be in the lower tier of interstate drug runners.

Mommy told me in December that she was taking Vidaza, a new drug, to make her stronger and that she planned to have Bone Marrow Transplant at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale next summer.   The Vidaza treatments apparently had debilitating side effects, one of which was severe nose bleeds.  Daddy found this out through his six-year-old child.  He also found out that Mommy had a “port” put in and “something was going wrong.”

He found out from their daughter’s after-school  child care teacher that his estranged wife had said she was no longer working, that she was withdrawing our granddaughter from the after child care facility, and that she was going for Bone Marrow Transplant around March 1.  Daddy asked Mommy, when he next met her at McDonald’s (apparently the favorite place for divorced parents to hand over their children for visitations),  if there was anything she could tell him about her plans for BMT.  He said her answer was something like, “Why? So you and your parents can kill me?”

On Sunday our son was told by Mommy to pick up their child at 6 a.m. Monday morning.  She was going for treatment; it would last approximately four weeks. He would be the custodial parent until she returned. Her older sister, who had arrived from Morocco to be Mommy’s “caregiver,” at some point would be living in the family home and would be driving Mommy’s car (insured by Daddy). This posed several new problems.  One was that he risked full liability if this Moroccan sister had an accident. He didn’t know if she even had a license. This was her first time in the United States.

Monday morning Daddy met them at McDonald’s (Mommy was in the driver’s seat at the time), and warned that the insurance did not cover uninsured drivers or any drivers other than Mommy and Daddy.  He managed to take pictures of the car and the two women.  Sister tried to grab the camera.  Mommy called 911. The police came, knowing all too well what this situation is, and Mommy told them Daddy was “harassing” her.  The police officer motioned him to back off (granddaughter still in the car) and Daddy explained the situation, said he had brought the insurance renewal slip. The officer took it to Mommy. Granddaughter was let out of the car. There were other unsavory elements to this scene at the Golden Arches parking lot, such as Mommy throwing the child’s belongings out on the pavement. (Where have I heard that one before?)

The good news is that our little girl is now in Daddy’s care, and the car in question was left in the carport at the family home.  Another friend (?) drove Mommy and her sister to wherever they were going, some cancer clinic, probably in Lubbock, Texas, where the Vidaza treatment was first suggested.

The bad news is that our granddaughter saw her mother — perhaps for the last time ever — acting in this way.

“Why is Mommy angry?” — “Because she is sick.”

Covering my bases, I texted “Good luck with your procedure!” to Mommy later that day.  If I hadn’t, someday she would come back and accuse me of not wishing her well when she went in for her “procedure.” I do wish her well.  The best case scenario will be for her to be filled with healthy blood cells that will nourish every part of her, and bring back her better judgment.

Meanwhile, I’m very intrigued by this new image of  McDonald’s, a family-friendly place.


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